3 African-American coaches remain in NCAA Tournament

Fred Jeter | 3/29/2019, 6 a.m.
African-Americans continue to dominate NCAA Basketball Tournament action as players, but not so much as coaches.

Sweet 16

The NCAA Basketball Tournament, which started with 64 teams, is now down to 16. Here is information on the upcoming games:

West Region — Thursday, March 28, in Anaheim, Calif.: Gonzaga vs. Florida State, 7:09 p.m.; Michigan vs. Texas Tech, 9:39 p.m. Region final on Saturday, March 30.

East Region — Friday, March 29, in Washington: Michigan State vs. Louisiana State University, 7:09 p.m.; Duke vs. Virginia Tech, 9:39 p.m. Region final on Sunday, March 31.

South Region — Thursday, March 28, in Louisville, Ky.: Tennessee vs. Purdue, 7:29 p.m.; Virginia vs. Oregon, 9:59 p.m. Region final on Saturday, March 30.

Midwest Region — Friday, March 29, in Kansas City, Mo.: North Carolina vs. Auburn, 7:29 p.m.; Kentucky vs. Houston, 9:59 p.m. Region final on Sunday, March 31.

Region winners advance to the NCAA Final Four on April 6 and 8 in Minneapolis.

Coach Tony Benford

Coach Tony Benford

Coach Leonard Hamilton

Coach Leonard Hamilton

Coach Kelvin Sampson

Coach Kelvin Sampson

African-Americans continue to dominate NCAA Basketball Tournament action as players, but not so much as coaches.

Only three head coaches among the remaining 16 tournament teams are African-American. There were only 10 African-American coaches in the original field of 68 teams. That includes two from HBCUs — North Carolina Central University and Prairie View A&M University.

African-American coaches whose teams are advancing to this weekend’s Sweet 16 are Leonard Hamilton of Florida State, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and Tony Benford of Louisiana State University.

Coach Benford requires an asterisk.

Previously a Tigers assistant, Coach Benford was named interim head coach earlier this month to replace suspended head Coach Will Wade, formerly of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Other African-American coaches in the NCAA field were Coach Ritchie McKay of Liberty University; Coach Johnny Dawkins of University of Central Florida; Coach James Jones of Yale; Coach Ron Hunter of Georgia State University; Coach Levelle Moton of North Carolina Central University; Coach Byron Smith of Prairie View A&M University; and Coach Travis DeCuire of the University of Montana.

Coaches McKay’s and Dawkins’ teams won first round games before being eliminated in Round 2.

In NCAA Tournament history, which dates back to 1939, only four African-American coaches have won the title. They are Coach John Thompson with Georgetown University in 1984; Coach Nolan Richardson with the University of Arkansas in 1994; Coach Tubby Smith with the University of Kentucky in 1998; and Coach Kevin Ollie with the University of Connecticut in 2014.

Coaches Hamilton and Sampson are familiar faces on the NCAA sidelines.

A 70-year-old native of Gastonia, N.C., Coach Hamilton has a career record of 554-425 with Oklahoma State, Miami (Fla.) and Florida State universities. His record with FSU is 354-215. Coach Hamilton has guided the Seminoles to seven NCAA berths, including a run to the Elite Eight a year ago.

Coach Hamilton is one of only four African-American basketball coaches in the 15-member ACC. The others are Coach Jeff Capel III at Pittsburgh, Coach Danny Manning at Wake Forest and Coach Kevin Keatts at North Carolina State University.

Meanwhile, the 14-team Atlantic 10 Conference has only three African-American coaches — Coach Anthony Grant at Dayton, Coach Ashley Howard at La Salle University and newly named Coach Jamion Christian at George Washington University.

Coach Sampson, a 63-year-old native of Laurinburg, N.C., has a career mark of 614-323 in coaching stints at Montana Tech, Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana and Houston. He is 116-51 at the University of Houston.

Coach Sampson has taken Houston to the NCAA Tournament twice. In 2002, he guided Oklahoma to the Final Four. In all, his teams have made 15 NCAA brackets.

Coach Benford is a 55-year-old native of Hobbs, N.M. He posted a 62-95 record as head coach at North Texas State, and has served as an assistant at New Mexico, Marquette, Nebraska and Arizona State before joining Coach Wade’s staff this season.